Small land parcels are key to delivering government’s new homes

Published:  04 January, 2016

The government’s plans for ‘directly commissioned’ house building could help tackle the housing crisis but land must be broken down into small and micro parcels wherever possible, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “The availability of small sites is the greatest barrier that SME house builders currently face when delivering new homes, which is why the government’s initiative to make public land available to small builders is so welcome. The government clearly recognises that we need to bring more small house builders back into the market if we have any hope of addressing the housing shortfall. Directly funding developments on publicly owned land, with planning permission already granted, should encourage growth of smaller builders and new entrants into the market.”

Mr Berry continued: “However, the public land that is being made available through ‘direct commissioning’ must be broken down into small and micro plots wherever possible. As the Housing Minister himself has recognised, the smaller the site, the quicker it will get built out. If the government wants to truly tap into the potential of SME house builders, it should bring forward a wide range of packages of land, including those attractive to the smallest of developers, thereby improving both capacity and speed of delivery.”

Mr Berry concluded: “As positive as this development is however, it remains only one piece of the jigsaw. The on-going skills shortage is as pertinent for local firms as it is for larger contractors. We desperately need more skilled tradespeople in the industry, otherwise even supportive plans such as those recently announced will be challenging for builders to deliver. Boosting apprenticeship training among construction SMEs will be crucial to this.”

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